When I was growing up I loved Mario Kart: Double Dash, driving around with one character whilst my partner in crime was perched on the rear, throwing shells and banana peels at anyone who dared to approach me from behind. I was also quite fond of Wave Race, a fast-paced jet ski racing game which pumped you with adrenaline as you glided through the water like a dolphin, often ducking under to get a slight boost or as a means to pull off impressive jumps. So, when I saw Kandagawa Jet Girls, I instantly put on my nostalgia glasses and thought this would be a combination of the two franchises with added boobs and young women, oh how I was wrong…
Developed by SHADE Inc, who has recently worked on titles such as Gun Gun Pixies, Kandagawa Jet Girls is a new fan service-filled action game which is based on the anime of the same name that launched in Japan late last year. If the game looks familiar, in terms of the visuals and design of the big-breasted beach babes, it’s probably because it’s also from the creators of the Senran Kagura franchise – another fan service a-plenty set of female-only-protagonist games.
So, as a fan of arcade-style racing games and well-proportioned anime ladies, why didn’t Kandagawa Jet Girls feel ‘fun’ to play? Let’s find out…
Kandagawa Jet Girls is the story of seven jet ski teams which consists of two females, one who operates the jet ski and the other who sits on the back and shoots the opposing teams with a water pistol and other non-lethal weaponry. The initial story revolves around Rin Namiki, a young girl who left her home in the countryside and arrived within Tokyo to step into her mother’s shoes and compete in the local tournament in hopes of becoming as legendary as she once was. With the help of her newly acquainted friend, Misa Aoi, they form a team and aim to keep pushing forward until they emerge the victor within this wet and wild event.
As you progress in the story – it is quite a long story with Visual Novel-style segments before and after every race – you’ll unlock the ability to play as the other six teams as well as a bonus chapter once you’ve experienced everyone’s agenda and reason for being here. This was one of the reasons I pushed myself to complete the game and get the platinum, although the story isn’t the most exciting, it allows you to see the same events from another person’s perspective. This is something I saw in DanMachi and Raging Loop previously. You’ll hear the thoughts of your team members as you read their dialogue, and see certain events and reasonings expanded which you didn’t know about when playing as another team.
Everyone has the same goal – to come first in the tournament – but the reason behind why they want to win is different for each team.
Altogether, there are over 60 races to play through, scattered over eight chapters. This, combined with the long story segments, results in the game taking easily over 15 hours to complete – possibly longer depending on the speed at which you can read. However, I strongly advise playing the game in small chunks rather than all at once as the gameplay can, and will, get very monotonous and repetitive quickly, leading to boredom and the urge to skip the story just to get the game over and done with faster. But I digress, let’s take a look at the game before we come to any final conclusion…
There are three parts to Kandagawa Jet Girls, the story, the main game and the mini-games. There’s also an in-game shop which allows you to customise your riders and vehicles, as well as various effects. Let’s look at each aspect…
As I mentioned above, the narrative is delivered by well-voiced Japanese Visual Novel-like cutscenes in which you tap Cross to progress after you’ve read each dialogue box. The game throws in a number of CGs and well-drawn images here and there, all of which can be ‘bought’ in the shop using credits you earn in the game (not MicroTransactions). There’s a lot of reading involved but this never bothered me as I enjoyed the individual stories and watching as they made reference to each other and crossed paths with the other teams as you progressed.
The Main Game.
I have many issues with the game but let’s just talk about the concept first of all. As a competitor of the jet ski competition, you take control of both the rider and the trigger-happy partner as you ‘drive’ around the course. It’s standard controls, R2 to go forward, L2 (plus R2 at the same time) to reverse, a button for using your ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ water pistol and one for your picked-up special weapon. You’re aiming to come first in every race as well as achieve as many of the two other ‘bonus objectives’ as you can in order to unlock trophies and receive a bigger prize for winning.
The races are filled with giant balloons to pop (which may contain ‘points’), weapons and boosts to pick up, boost pads to ‘swim’ over, and ramps to jump off and perform ‘tricks’. The tricks are interesting as there are four variants of pushing both Thumbsticks at the same time, each variant performing a different trick (spin left, spin right, do a forward roll, and strike a sexy pose). These fill your boost meter which can be used either to boost at the push of a button or you can build it up to 100 points then enhance your weapons temporarily or give yourself infinite boosts for a short time.
First of all, for all the fans of Senran Kagura out there – there is no ‘Fondle Simulator’, ‘Grope-a-thon’, or aptly-named ‘Boobie Motorboating’ within Kandagawa Jet Girls. There’s not even a PSVR mode which lets you get up and close to the girls – as we saw in Peach Beach Splash. Instead, the mini-game section is reserved for actual mini-games which rewards you with in-game currency depending on the level you play at and the score you achieve. The silly thing is, playing these for about 15-30 minutes will bag you more than about five hours of playing the main game – it’s very easy to farm points in these so you can buy all the upgrades for your vehicle!
There are four games to play:
1. Jet Machine Cleaning – This is a QTE game in which you push the four buttons which are on the screen as fast as you can. If you push the wrong button then you’ll lose your streak and lower your possible bonus. As the difficulty increases, the game will start to include the D-Pad and both L1 and R1 buttons.
2. Mopping – you run across the deck of the longest boat in the world as you efficiently mop up the puddles and avoid ‘wet floor’ signs/cones. Once again, if you hit a cone then you lose your steak and the bonus is lowered, yet at certain intervals, you’ll go all hyper and simply smash them out of the way as you clean for your dear life!
3. Treadmill Run – This is the worse mini-game of the bunch, in my opinion. You have to furiously tap Cross in order to keep the young lady on the treadmill, catching things as they’re thrown at you. Go too fast and you’ll run off the edge, too slow and you’ll shoot off into a wall, don’t collect enough things being thrown at you and you won’t get a decent enough score to unlock the higher difficulty levels. It’s annoying.
4. Aerials – ‘Drive’ around the track as you perform tricks when jumping through hoops in order to appease the viewers and gain more points. This game isn’t that bad and can bag you a lot of in-game currency, but it’s much longer than the first one, for example, which gives you over 100k within a few minutes.
But, what do you spend all these thousands of points on, I hear you cry! Well…
As you progress through the story, you’ll unlock new items you can buy using all those ‘points’ (currency) which are burning a hole in your virtual pocket. You can buy the various CGs and place them in your gallery to look at in the future, unlock new background music for use within the menus, and even grab some new stickers to use whilst in multiplayer. But, the main purpose of the shop is for dressing up your wild wetsuit-wearing women and upgrading your jet ski.
Glam ’em up!
Each character has two outfits, their casual and sportswear, both of which can be customised and changed independently. Every time you unlock a new story, you’ll gain the new contestant’s clothes and each time you complete all three bonus goals in a race you’ll have a chance at unlocking new gear. There are hundreds of clothing items including school uniforms, wetsuits, french maid underwear (and other sexy alternative clothing), lots of hairstyles, and a bunch of accessories for your head, body, arms and legs. All of the clothing items also come in various styles and colours, allowing you to fully kit out your team in any way you wish.
For those who are interested, yes – when dressing them up you can have the girls always stare at you as you spin them around like they’re looking into your soul as their hair uses physics to flop around. Also, double (D) yes, they have wobbly boob-physics which causes their dirty pillows to jiggle as you wiggle the thumbstick! However, there’s no photo mode, no diorama, no showcase of the girls and none of the aforementioned ‘touchy-feely’ modes. I believe this is the same in all versions and on all platforms as well.
It’s working!!! It’s wooorking!
In regards to your jet ski, you can buy visual effects for the spray you give off when boosting or gliding around corners – the game has a ‘drift = boost’ mechanic like most racing games these days. You can also change the skin and decal which is present on your vehicle to make it even more custom than the unique style it begins as. These are all cosmetic though, the main reason for entering this menu is to Pimp Your Ride!
Again, as you progress in the stories, you’ll get access to a bunch of parts you can purchase which will increase your boost meter, steering, battery, picked-up weapons and even the music which plays whilst you’re using that vehicle. The unusual thing about these is that you don’t just swap out the lower parts for the higher ones (so taking out Battery 1 to put in Battery 5), you stack them all to really push the benefits you get. It’s an unusual way of doing it but it quickly results in your vehicle being far too OP in comparison to the other competitors’ jet skis.
As a way of ‘limiting’ you from slapping everything on your machine at once, you only begin with 10 upgrade points (although all parts you buy are available to all stories without re-buying them). Every race or two you gain another 10points until you hit 90, allowing you to add even more power or handling boosts. But, Kandagawa Jet Girls has a serious issue with difficulty balancing as its far too easy with only the final secret story providing any sort of challenge for the first two races. This led to my biggest disappointment with the game…
Jet skiing, for beginners
The thing which made Wave Race thrilling and exciting was the speed you could feel as you sped around the courses, fighting to get into first place and maintaining your position. Kandagawa Jet Girls is about as exciting and tense as sticking Mario Kart on Easy and watching as your kart flies into first place and never seeing another opponent ever again (unless you lap them). The problem is that there’s no difficulty selection, so the game ‘thinks’ it knows how to scale the gameplay, but it really doesn’t. You’ll constantly be in first place with little to no effort, often finishing the game upwards of 30 seconds before the person in second place.
What adds insult to injury is that some of the challenges revolve around using your weapon pickups a number of times or shooting all the other racers at the same time. In a regular racing game, you would catch up to them, use the weapon, and then speed out in front and take the win. In this one, however, you’ll find you have to literally put on your breaks, sit there waiting for about 20 seconds until the others catch up to you, then open firing on them before you fade into the distance once more. There is literally no challenge or excitement, it’s far too easy.
Now, you could argue that the difficulty is perfect for young children and your grandparents who may want a nice racing game that they can jump into and have a fun time with without worrying about constantly losing. Sure, I can see that, but the game is full of big bouncy-breasted beautiful babes and an adult-themed narrative, so I don’t think the game was targeting very young and old people.
I personally enjoyed the game but I did find it getting rather monotonous and repetitive quickly, due to there only being around eight courses (although they do have different variants that change the route a little) and the same challenges repeating constantly. The only time I felt the game was an actual challenge was the final stages where you have a really low-level jet ski but the others are all maxed out – that part felt fun and I actually came second for the first and only time in the entire game! If I had played the game in small segments and not all at once, I may have enjoyed it more.
Other modes and trophies
If you have a friend who also likes these types of games, then you’d probably get more enjoyment out of the multiplayer mode. You can either play ranked (where you can’t change any of the race details) or casual (which you can customise). If playing casually, you can set the course, the route, the time of day, how many laps, if it’s private or open, and if you want the room to be for anyone, beginners only or experts only. I can’t seem to get the casual mode to work (as it says PSN is down – but it isn’t) but I imagine racing against another human will be a lot more exciting than the CPU.
Well – maybe. Even though you’re supposedly moving at over 100 kph, it feels like you’re going at about 10-20…
If you just fancy racing around without the story, you can enter the ‘Freeplay’ mode. In here you can set all of the above options as well as add up to three teams of CPU opponents to the race. The funny thing is, you can actually set the difficulty level in this mode to either Weak, Normal or Strong! So, if you actually want a challenge then I’d suggest you play a few races in Freeplay – although there are no trophies for these races. You can also enter time trials (which each have a trophy for beating the top time).
All I can say about these is that you can literally beat the default ghost with your eyes closed – although there are online leaderboards if you wish to try and compete with humans.
Although the game has a number of flaws and runs really slow in comparison to alternative racing games, Kandagawa Jet Girls was fun to play thanks to the intertwining stories and multitude of customisation options – I also enjoyed the mini-games. The character models are all well-done and the physics on each of the six limbs are very realistic and nice to watch in motion, but the game itself is far too slow. I was hoping for Mario Kart and Wave Race speeds but we ended up with Mario Kart at 50cc with four flat tires. No, that’s a bit unfair, maybe three flat tires? If you play it in chunks and enjoy the stories being told, you’ll get more out of the game rather than expecting a fast, exciting arcade racer.
If you’re a fan of Senran Kagura (who isn’t), you can play as two of the characters in Kandagawa Jet Girls, Ryōna and Ryōbi. But, as day one DLC, you can buy the character pass for £24.99 and unlock: Yumi & Asuka, Ikaruga & Yomi, Homura & Hikage, and Murasaki & Mirai – each of these contain the two characters, their costumes, accessories, hairstyles, BGM parts, a CG, and the clubhouse menu music. These are also available as packs of two for £7.99 each if you just want to play as your favourite Senran Kagura Waifu. However, this is Freeplay and online-only as the story mode is restricted to set characters and none of these has their own stories included.
Had the pack also contained four new stories with new challenges, maybe a few new courses and their own stories as to why they wanted to win the tournament, then I might have invested in buying them. But, as it is, they’re only really there for the fans. At least they’re not as expensive as the new characters in Koei Tecmo’s Fairy Tail though!
Kandagawa Jet Girls£39.99
- - A wide selection of clothing and vehicle add-ons to unlock and buy
- - The character models and courses look great
- - 'Nice' physics
- - The interweaving story arcs were interesting and held the game together nicely
- - The music is very upbeat and enjoyable, as are the voices
- - The game is far too slow, there's no real sense of speed or excitement
- - You'll constantly find yourself having to stop for about 20 seconds to allow the others to catch up so you can shoot them
- - Although the courses all have varients at different times of day and slightly different routes to take, there's not enough to stop it feeling a little monotonous
- - Fans of Senran Kagura will have to pay for the day one DLC to unlock their favourit characters in-game
- - The game is very easy, it feels like a game aimed at children yet full of adult-orientated narrative. I think it's confused with who the target audience is